29 April 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Depoliticizing Immigration and the DREAM Act

57,000 years ago, the first human migrant made her/his way out of Africa to colonize Eurasia. The first wave of globalization was thus underway and since then, humans have emerged from the cradle of civilization to travel, explore and settle in different areas of the world sometimes peacefully, and other times, acrimoniously. This country was settled quite acrimoniously but the current trend of migration promises peaceful integration for the most part.

In the current era of capitalist globalization, migrants have taken the form of skilled and unskilled migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, family members and students seeking movement beyond arbitrary political lines. Immigration has become a political issue since the coming of the Other and is now a problem area that is ferociously debated at times, with politicians vying for votes using their positions on migrant control policies.

And yet, some migration is more politicized than others without proper logic and reason. The issuing of H-1 visas to skilled workers, diversity visa lottery, random grants of refugee status, and visas for professional athletes are not very political issues of concern in the sense that people do not take to the streets protesting that David Beckham is taking an American job. But the ‘Mexican’ legal or illegal is the centerpoint for all our immigration “problems” much like Portuguese workers in Canada to the point where most Americans want to build a fence across the U.S.-Mexican border to solve this “problem.” The recipe for this food for thought includes some historical amnesia mixed with ignorance and racism as a spice. Does anyone care to explain why some work is political and other work is deemed irrelevant for political battles? Why one group of people have an inherent right to citizenship while another has to earn that citizenship? Why capital is free to escape to cheaper sources of labor while the movement of workers is more stringently controlled?

Due to the perception of ‘illegal’ immigration as largely a problem stemming from one source Mexico even the DREAM Act that benefits the children of illegal (and some legal) immigrants from all over the world has faced an uphill political battle. The beneficiaries would be educated or ready for military service falling withing the category of immigration policy not usually treated as a political issue in this country. And yet, we are deemed as criminals by the ignorant masses and at risk of deportation to foreign lands away from our families and homes, against our wishes.

More people live and work outside of their countries of origin than ever before and the numbers are likely to increase as the world becomes smaller. The movement of human bodies across borders should be seen and treated as a normal phenomenon regulated to a reasonable point. Jailing refugee and asylum seekers, putting non-violent undocumented workers and students into concerntration camps (detention centers) is an extreme approach to dealing with a more globalized workforce. The immigration issue does not need more politics it needs more humanity.

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